Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study


This, the first book-length study devoted exclusively to Marx’s perspectives on gender and the family, offers a fresh look at this topic in light of twenty-first century concerns. Although Marx’s writings sometimes exhibit sexism his work often transcends these phrases. Brown studies his writings on gender, as well as his 1879-1882 notebooks on precapitalist societies and gender.
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This, the first book-length study devoted exclusively to Marx’s perspectives on gender and the family, offers a fresh look at this topic in light of twenty-first century concerns. Although Marx’s writings sometimes exhibit sexism his work often transcends these phrases. Brown studies his writings on gender, as well as his 1879-1882 notebooks on precapitalist societies and gender.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Overall, from Marx on Gender and the Family emerges a dialectical Marxism, one that points to the beginnings of a unitary theory of gender and class. Noted throughout is that Marx did not systematically examine gender as a category and the aim of the book is not to try and construct one. Brown is not scared to highlight some of Marx’s failings, in particular when he falls back on prejudice or moralism when discussing the oppression of women … The most important aspect of the work is that in providing a systematic overview of the totality of Marx’s work on the topic, Brown is able to indicate openings for analysis that can construct the base for the redevelopment of a Marxist-feminist theory.
—Jenny Morrison, International Socialist Group
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608462780
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Series: Historical Materialism Book Series , #39
  • Pages: 246
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Heather Brown Ph.D. (2009), Purdue University, is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Westfield State University. Her research interests are in modern and contemporary political thought especially involving the intersections of gender, race and class.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

1 Introduction 1

Reevaluating and developing Marx for feminist theory today 4

Overview of the book 8

2 The Early Writings on Gender and the Family 11

The 1844 Manuscripts 12

Di Stefano, voluntarism and transcendence 12

Overcoming hierarchical dualisms 16

Naturalism and humanism 18

Marx and human nature 22

Labour and alienation 23

Gender in the 1844 Manuscripts 28

Alienation and gender 28

Feminist theory and the 1844 Manuscripts 31

'Crude Communism', private property, and women 33

Women's alienation in capitalist society 35

Modes of production and the course of history 39

The family and class-society 40

On the 'Bourgeois Family' 43

Alienation, bourgeois morality and suicide 44

Revisiting the nature/culture and man/woman dualisms 49

Conclusion 50

3 Political Economy, Gender, and the 'Transformation' of the Family Engels's 'Principles of Communism' in relation to gender and the family 53

The Communist Manifesto 55

Gender and the family in The Communist Manifesto 57

Nature and society in Capital 61

Nature and the labour-process 63

Necessity and freedom 64

The political economy of Capital, Volume I 65

The dual nature of labour and commodities 65

Feminist critiques of Marx on production and reproduction 66

Production, consumption and reproduction in capitalism 70

'Productive' and 'unproductive' labour 76

Gender and the family in Capital 78

'The Working Day' and 'Machinery and Large-Scale Industry' 78

The effects of machinery on women 81

Women and morality 84

The dialectics of the struggle over the working-day 88

Reprising the 'transformation' of the family in Capital 92

Conclusion 97

4 Marx's Journalism and Political Activities 99

The Preston strikes and women's labour 100

The Bulwer-Lytton scandal 105

Women and the First International 112

Marx and the Kugelmanns 116

Women and the Paris Commune 118

After the Commune 126

Critique of the Gotha Programme 126

Labour, nature, and wealth in the Critique of the Gotha Programme 129

'The Programme of the Parti Ouvrier' 130

Conclusion 132

5 Patriarchy, Women's Oppression and Resistance: Comparing Marx and Engels on Gender and the Family in Precapitalist Societies 133

Marx's notebooks and the history of Engels's The Origin of the Family 134

Separating Marx from Engels 136

Marx, feminism and dialectics 139

Marx's notebooks in historical context 146

Morgan's Ancient Society 147

Marx's notes on Morgan 149

The dialectics of the family 151

Slavery, the patriarchal family, and monogamy 154

Women's historical position and subjectivity 158

Engels's Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State 163

Feminist responses to 'Origin of the Family' 164

Unilinearism and economic determinism 165

Similarities and differences on patriarchal society and its historical significance 168

Engels's uncritical acceptance of Morgan and Bachofen on women's position in clan-societies 170

Comparing Marx and Engels on gender and the family 173

6 The Family, the State and Property-Rights: The Dialectics of Gender and the Family in Precapitalist Societies 176

Maine's Lectures on the Early History of Institutions 177

Marx's notes on Maine 178

The patriarchal family and the clan 181

Fosterage and the ancient-Irish family 185

The position of women in ancient-Irish society 188

Women's property-rights in Indian society 190

Suttee in Indian society 195

Marx's notebooks on Ludwig Lange's Römische Alterthümer 199

Class-conflict, the development of the state and the position of women 200

Arrogation, Patria Potestas and women 201

Marriage and Manus 202

Property and inheritance-rights 204

Guardianship 205

Conclusion 207

7 Conclusion 210

Evaluating Marx's work on gender and the family for today 218

References 221

Index 229

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